NASA Plans to Send a Robot Lander to Find Alien Life on Europa

By: | March 3rd, 2017

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Do aliens exist or we are alone in the universe? This is one of the questions that most of us are curious to know.

Scientists believe that there is a good chance of finding alien life on Europa, one of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons. NASA recently found mounds of visual evidence that suggests that Europa has a very warm core and a subterranean ocean. They also spotted some ejection of materials from the surface which are believed to be the geysers of liquid water spewing out from the surface of Europa. Because of all this, NASA feels it to is an ideal place to look for life.

Now, a NASA-employed Science Definition Team (SDT) of 21 researchers is planning to send a robotic lander to drill into the icy crust of Europa. Their aim is to search for extraterrestrial life within its crust, analyze Europa’s surface to learn about its characteristics, and learn how habitable it is.

Astronomer and SDT member Jonathan Lunine said, “Europa is provisionally a great place to go. It has a very large amount of rocks, it’s got a lot of heat [at its core], so at the base of the oceans, there are undoubtedly hydrothermal systems. Everything we know about it makes this a good [place] to look for life.”

Doug Vakoch, president of METI International, said, “The top priority of this lander mission will be to search for evidence of life on Europa,” he said. “But even if that main goal isn’t met, we will learn a great deal about the potential habitability of this icy moon, which will be essential for future, even more ambitious missions.”

As per NASA’s plan, this mission could be on its way by 2024, with a 2031 arrival date.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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